Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, generate a large volume of research results emanating from donorfunded projects. The main objective is to disseminate, as widely as possible, the results of IRRI’s research. There is also a strong push to provide free open access to these information resources through modes convenient to researchers in both developing and developed countries.
Certain instruments for open access (OA) are already in place at IRRI, including links to fulltext publications posted on the Institutes Web site (http://www.irri.org/), especially via the Library branch site (http://ricelib.irri.cgiar.org/), the Rice Knowledge Bank (http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org/), and Rice Publications Archive (http://rice-publications.irri.org/). The joint initiatives of the Library and the Institutes main science publishing units, particularly Communication and Publications Services and the Training Center, typify a convergence of practices to overcome hurdles to OA implementation.
This paper explores how the links in IRRIs scholarly publishing chain, bridging information management and publishing, can effectively deliver public goods (knowledge about rice, in this case) to the intended primary users — researchers and extensionists in the national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) in developing countries.
It also discusses publishing models for delivering public goods generated by an international research organization. To meet its mission, IRRI must employ various demandsupply models to disseminate information. Open access publishing is one model to adopt but first, the onus is on the Institute to overcome issues such as intellectual property rights, funding, and connectivity.
IRRIs donors, NARES partners, governments, and rice farmers and consumers expect it to create and share information for the common good, and it strives to convert its resources into electronic format for delivery over the Internet. However, not all its stakeholders are connected.
To create impact, IRRI must deliver information through whatever appropriate form, be it cuttingedge digital versions or traditional hardcopy books. This paper discusses this dilemma and hopes to encourage further research and thought on open access publishing.
Rice agriculture in the information age
Bridging the knowledge gap in rice research
Operationalizing open access in IRRI: The experiences of LDS and CPS
IRRI Training Center: Building capacity through open access
Open access towards equitable access to IRRIs global public goods
Conclusion: Creating a global portal for rice knowledge
Rice is the staple food for majority of the worlds population, especially in developing nations. As the single largest source of food, employment, and income for millions of poor people, it is the most important economic activity on Earth. It is because rice affects so many lives, especially in Asia, that the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations saw it prudent to create an international institute for rice research.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was organized in 1960 in Los Baños, Philippines, at a time when there was fear of famine across Asia, where most rice eaters are located. Compounding the threat of widespread hunger were (1) a rampant increase in the worlds population and (2) the steady depletion of land area suitable for rice growing.
Mandated to engage in international research and training, IRRIs mission was then as it is now to improve the wellbeing of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, particularly those with low incomes.
IRRI and the Green Revolution
IRRIs first rice variety, IR8, with its high yield potential under correct management, together with the modern wheat varieties created by Norman Borlaug and his associates at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT at http://www.cimmyt.org/) in Mexico, constituted an agricultural breakthrough, which caused the great wave of optimism in the mid and late 1960s about the ability to feed the hungry millions in the less developed countries. These developments were popularly hailed as the Green Revolution, the miracle that transformed agriculture (Chandler, 1992).
Due to wider propagation of yieldimproving technologies and intensified use of fertilizer, irrigation water, and other farming inputs, poor people throughout Asia and Latin America have had better access to less expensive food and today experience improved livelihoods (Maclean, et al., 2002).
Beyond miracle seeds and better techniques, however, the real driver of productivity was knowledge. Output was greater because of wider distribution of information and adoption of agricultural practices that had already been tested and finetuned by farmers in more developed countries. As such, the Green Revolution is, perhaps, one of the finest examples of the knowledge for development equation.
The importance of knowledge capital in development
In Knowledge for Development, the World Bank explained that poor countries suffer not only from insufficient financial capital but also from lack of knowledge (World Bank, 1999). It identified two forms of knowledgerelated problems affecting many developing countries:
- Knowledge about technology:Insufficient knowledge about technology or limited knowhow results in knowledge gaps.
- Knowledge about attributes: Knowledge about attributes is essential in building an effective market. What makes HYVs better than the seeds farmers are now using? Why should extension workers be believed or trusted? Without such inputs, information problems will arise and may dissuade farmers from adopting new technology.
The Green Revolution is a good case in point. Developments in agriculture were limited to industrialized nations and, without organized efforts or the means to share any lessons or best practices with the less developed communities, there were knowledge gaps between and within countries.
When information was made available, localized, and then adopted on a wide scale, yields increased, farmers livelihoods improved, and crops such as rice became more accessible and affordable. The World Bank also claimed that productivity gains would have been even higher had other knowledgebased problems been identified and addressed. For example, it referred to a study that found an average loss of 400 percent in potential farm income due to ineffective implementation of HYV seeds and techniques.
The World Bank report also stressed the importance of training, research and development, and support. Indeed, the Green Revolution succeeded because of collective action among funding agencies, national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit research and training institutions. Furthermore, the public nature of funding allowed the HYV seeds, information, and technologies to be distributed as common goods.
Knowledge as a global public good
Because it was a public good, HYV technology spread well and fast the same practices that were being taught in the farms of India were also being learned by farmers in the Philippines (nonexcludability); successful application of techniques in one area did not take away from implementation in another location (nonrivalrous consumption). Because of this, the full advantages were captured by society at large, not just by the instigators of the Green Revolution or, had it not been freely available, by those who could afford to use it.
The Green Revolution was not a profitdriven venture and there was minimal participation from the private sector. While in principle, seeds were free, distribution entailed cost. To meet the need and demand, especially in farflung rural fields, it was necessary to create a new link in the chain.
Once HYVs and related technologies proved feasible, many poor countries set up national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) to pursue agricultural development (World Bank, 1999). These agencies were tasked to disseminate seeds and technologies and to work directly with farmer organizations to adapt varieties to local conditions. In effect, the NARES helped bridge the gap between knowledge producers and consumers.
How IRRI delivers knowledge for impact
IRRIs value chain (Porter, 1998) utilizes the same hubandspoke structure fashioned during the Green Revolution. Because of the scope of its work a single program can be located in multiple countries IRRIs researchtodelivery process (IRRI, 2001) will be most effective by engaging donors, NARES, advanced research institutes (ARIs), and other collaborators (Box 1).
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In terms of total dollar investment, this business model has been shown to generate positive returns (Raitzer, 2003). At IRRI, the formula has worked especially well in three key areas:
Assessing user needs: Without the assistance of local partners that have a direct line to their constituents, IRRI would be unable to determine the real needs of farmers to be able to derive the appropriate technologies and tools to develop through research.
Research and development: To make sure it conducts research that is relevant, IRRIs processes must be inclusive and consultative.
Delivering knowledge and evaluating impact: For market efficiency, a producer should deliver its offering directly to its users. IRRI does not have the funds, manpower, and other resources required to do so. Intermediaries such as NARES and ARIs are indispensable players in this task.
Rice agriculture in the information age
Today, more than 75 percent of the worlds poorest people still depend on rice. As population continues to rise, nextgeneration technologies are again needed, not only to increase yield but also to counter the effects of climate change and environmental deterioration. Moreover, globalization is breaking down national barriers and is changing the makeup of institutions, as well as the production and marketing dynamics of ricegrowing and riceconsuming countries.
Three major upheavals in the last 10 years alone will affect how IRRI does its work:
Cuttingedge developments in molecular biology and genetics: With the publication of the rice genome sequence in 2005, IRRI scientists and collaborators may soon be able to identify specific genes that can increase productivity, protect against disease, resist drought, and address nutritional deficiencies. The finished genome sequence also acts as a research blueprint for other major crops.
Almost unlimited storage capacity for data: Data management capacity will be progressively more important as the volume of ricerelated research grows with time. This will allow IRRI to capture and manage large amounts of data and perform complex analyses.
New and improved technologies: Information and communication technologies (ICT) are becoming more affordable and accessible. Because of the distributed nature of IRRIs work, these create more opportunities to spread information and to collaborate.
A new strategic plan for IRRI
Clearly, IRRIs research environment has changed since the Green Revolution broke out in the last century. Faced with a new development paradigm, in 2006, IRRI developed a new strategic plan (IRRI, 2006) and retooled its corporate mission: to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability through collaborative research, partnerships, and strengthening of national agricultural research and extension systems.
Bridging the knowledge gap in rice research
Under the new strategy, IRRI will seek to provide equitable access to information and knowledge on rice and help develop the next generation of rice scientists (Goal 4). It aims to reach a wide range of beneficiaries from crop scientists, development specialists, extension workers, farmers, and processors to policymakers, educators, students, and consumers. As the World Bank pointed out, this kind of scope may translate to even more knowledge gaps and information problems.
To increase the probability of success, the implementation program will leverage three of IRRIs strongest competitive advantages (Figure 1):
- ICT infrastructure and capacity;
- Robust research and development through partnerships; and
- Delivery of knowledge through scholarly communication and publishing.
Changes in IRRIs research paradigm: The role of partnerships
With the altered landscape, IRRI needs to be dynamic and flexible as an organization and its programs more product and impact oriented. A change in paradigm becomes even more urgent, as the institute is faced with reduced donor funding, leaner manpower, and fewer resources.
Considering these, IRRIs research portfolio will now focus on nextgeneration technologies:
- Many NARES, especially those in Asia, now implement their own programs in cooperation with IRRI. Through training and technology transfer, the Institute can gradually devolve work on mature technologies to its partners.
- As the environmental threat increases, IRRI will shift its attention from general farming system issues to rice diversification and climate change concerns.
Partnerships will be an increasingly important component of IRRIs strategies:
- IRRI collaborates with various networks and consortia, such as the Challenge Program for Water and Food (CPWF at http://www.waterforfood.org/), the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE at http://www.irri.org/cure/cure.htm), the Generation Challenge Program (GCP at http://www.generationcp.org/index.php), the International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER), the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC at http://www.irri.org/irrc/default.asp), and the RiceWheat Consortium (http://www.rwc.cgiar.org/index.asp).
- IRRI is currently working with CIMMYT (http://www.cimmyt.org/) in three Alliance Programs Crop Research Informatics Laboratory (CRIL), Intensive RiceBased Systems in Asia, and Development of a Cereal Knowledge Bank.
- While it continues to work extensively on ricerelated issues in Asia, in 2006, IRRI opened two satellite offices in Africa (Mozambique and Nigeria) and is looking to coordinate more closely with the Africa Rice Center (WARDA at http://www.warda.org/).
- Multinational corporations have already been investing in agricultural research, especially on hybrid rice, and employ marketbased approaches. IRRI is exploring opportunities to work with the business sector.
As the hub in multiple collaborations (Figure 2), IRRI increases its reach and efficiency in disseminating technologies. This distributed structure enables national administrators, scientists, and extension workers to assume a stronger sense of project ownership, responsibility, and accountability.
NARES partners are vital players in the researchtodelivery value chain, acting as the direct link between headquarters and Goal 4 stakeholders. In turn, IRRI must strive to help these national agencies address the ricerelated concerns in their respective countries. To do so, it must continue to push the latest research findings through the network via scholarly communication and publishing and, at the same time, distill and transfer skills, methods, and technologies through training and capacity building.
The importance of scholarly communication and training in IRRIs new strategic plan
Scholarly communication a set of formal and informal processes by which the research and scholarship of faculty, researchers, and independent scholars are created, evaluated, edited, formatted, distributed, organized, made accessible, archived, used, and transformed (Cornell University, 2007) is an intrinsic component of the practice of scientific research. At IRRI, it results in the dissemination of knowledge products and services, which reach farmers as production packages.
IRRIs incorporators recognized the value of getting the message out by way of three key objectives:
- publish and disseminate research results;
- collect the worlds literature on rice in a library for scientists and scholars; and
- train promising young scientists (IRRI, 1960).
Today, these functions are well integrated into IRRIs researchtodelivery process and corporate structure:
- Communication and Publications Services (CPS): CPS is IRRIs publishing arm. To disseminate research findings, it works closely with staff scientists to develop information products. To date, CPS has published almost 1,000 books comprising more than 150,000 total pages.
- Library and Documentation Services (LDS at http://ricelib.irri.cgiar.org/): LDS holds the worlds largest collection of ricerelated literature. The Library is frequented by both local and international researchers and students.
- Training Center (TC at http://www.training.irri.org/): The TC distills information from IRRIs research and conducts training and capacity building programs for NARES partners, especially with the use of interactive methodologies.
Scaling up IRRIs communication and training efforts through electronic delivery
As the backdrop of rice research changes, the needs of IRRIs beneficiaries will expand and be increasingly intricate, requiring more delivery modalities and access channels. To enhance service delivery, CPS, LDS, and TC have each developed Webbased offerings for information dissemination:
- Most of the books published by CPS are available free in the Rice Publications Archive (http://rice-publications.irri.org/). IRRI images are available, as well, through the Photobank (http://www.ricephotos.org).
- Through the Library Internet site (http://ricelib.irri.cgiar.org/), researchers can access online most of LDS information and references.
- The TC manages the Rice Knowledge Bank (RKB; http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org), which serves the needs of IRRIs audiences in extension. It also maintains a separate site (http://www.training.irri.org) for general users.
These sites have been online only for about five years but have already been widely accessed. The RKB alone recorded more than one million hits within the same year of its 2002 launch.
IRRI joins the open access publishing community
To facilitate free exchange of information, in October 2006, IRRI changed its copyright policy from the original all rights reserved to some rights reserved. This serves to strengthen IRRIs position as a producer of global public goods (GPG) and removes old encumbrances that kept users from enjoying the full benefits of the Institutes research. All books, photos, training modules, software, and other knowledge products are available through Creative Commons license deeds and similar types of open access (OA) mechanisms. As as example, see what IRRI states on its photo bank site at http://www.ricephotos.org/terms.htm.
Because, prior to the shift, many of the organizations resources were already freely available, to some, this may seem like a token gesture. In practical terms, however, the change will affect significantly the way that IRRI goes from research to delivery. Certainly, it is impacting many activities in the value chain, from donor relationship management and germplasm distribution to copublishing practices and scholar assistance.
In any case, the policy change has driven CPS, LDS, and TC to review their existing strategies and operations, to be able to determine how OA can help them meet their aims under Goal 4.
Operationalizing open access in IRRI: The experiences of LDS and CPS
IRRI produces a large volume of ricerelated information resulting from externally funded research. The largest knowledge generators have been its scientists, especially those who publish the results of their research.
With the change in copyright policy, the pressure is on LDS and CPS as primary agents for the capture, collection, and dissemination of scholarly material to facilitate making all of IRRIs research output available via OA.
LDS: Granting access to the worlds biggest collection of ricerelated literature
When LDS was set up back in 1960, its mandate was to make available to scientists in developing countries any articles that they were unable to get in the libraries of the institutions where they were working (Chandler, 1992). From a collection of 65,000 books, monographs, and periodical and serial titles (Wedgeworth, 1986), today, the Library boasts of almost 150,000 publications in its collection (IRRI, 2007), earning recognition as the largest collection of ricerelated literature in the world.
With ICT, LDS should be able to disseminate much larger volumes of scholarly information faster through the Internet especially with cheaper hardware and software, more flexible publishing media and formats, and now growing acceptance of OA. In fact, even before the policy change, LDS had been one of the early adopters of free access in IRRI. It promotes OA uptake by:
- Developing a freely accessible online database of technical literature about rice;
- Digitizing rice technical literature (e.g., preprints and postprints) for wider sharing and preservation;
- Cataloguing electronic resources, whether free or licensed, to further populate the online public access catalog (OPAC) and the rice database;
- Linking through its Internet site (http://ricelib.irri.cgiar.org) to OA facilities such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (http://www.doaj.org), the Public Library of Science (http://www.plos.org), the Scientific Electronic Library Online (http://www.scielo.org), the Free Full Text site (http://www.freefulltext.com), etc.; and
- Contributing content to the CG Virtual Library, a platform for access to free fulltext publications of the CGIAR.
LDS open access campaign marred by serials and permissions crises
Earlier this year, LDS studied publishing trends at IRRI and found that journal articles have mostly been submitted by research staff to commercial journals such as Field Crops Research, Theoretical and Applied Genetics, Euphytica, and Agronomy Journal. Only one open access journal, Breeding Research, made it to the top five.
Subscription charges to commercial journals have increased by more than 37 percent since 2002 (Van Orsdel and Born, 2006). With rising journal costs effectively restricting access, many libraries are now plagued by a serials crisis. At IRRI, LDS acquisition costs of journals related to IRRIs research program 174 titles, 104 of which are available online rose by an average of 38 percent in 200607. Table 1 shows the average prices and price changes of journals in subjects that are most likely to be used by IRRI scientists.
Table 1: Average prices/price changes of journals in scientific disciplines relevant to IRRI. Subject Average Price
Percentage of price changes
Percentage of price changes
Agriculture 799.00 890.00 37 41 Biology 1,494.00 1,548.00 37 42 Botany 1,109.00 1,238.00 36 41 Chemistry 2,868.00 3,254.00 34 34 Engineering 1,683.00 1,756.00 38 35 Food science 1,107.00 1,292.00 35 44 Technology 1,460.00 1,560.00 38 35 Zoology 1,053.00 1,259.00 28 29
Commercial publishers also impose complex license agreements and copyright restrictions on journals, despite the already high fees paid by libraries. Labeled by Suber (2003) as the permission crisis, this serves as another obstacle to free access.
CPS publishing strategy: Addressing business problems through customer orientation
CPS, the Institutes publishing arm, was created to fulfill a key mandate: to publish and disseminate the results of its work (IRRI, 1960). In practice, this mandate comes from IRRIs project donors that prescribe publication as a key performance indicator. Therefore, every CPS book almost 1,000 titles released to date is the direct output of funded research.
The correlation between financial health/project portfolio and CPS production output directly affects IRRIs publishing business. That is, the availability of funding or the lack of it tends to overtake the needs of customers. A review of CPS operations in 2003 revealed two problematic trends:
- Decline in annual publication output: From a high of 50 books in 1998, the average annual lineup dropped to seven starting in 1999.
- Distribution and inventory management problems: About US$400,000 worth of products (mostly scientific books) was stored in the CPS warehouse.
To revitalize IRRIs publishing business, in 2004, CPS developed a new customeroriented strategy to promote innovative and responsive communication and marketing solutions for clients/markets that fulfill critical needs of IRRI stakeholders, constituents, and publics.
Open access in IRRI publishing: Beyond getting the message out
The 2003 CPS study also showed that many publications were distributed free, particularly to researchers, libraries, and students in developing countries. At the same time, CPS ability to subsidize free dissemination was severely limited by budget constraints.
To continue to fulfill its mandate, CPS created the Rice Publications Archive (http://rice-publications.irri.org/), a Web site where most IRRI publications could be downloaded electronically at no cost. Through this Web site, IRRIs research became more widely available.
However, still covered by a strict copyright policy, content could not be easily appropriated by researchers for their own needs. To use a photo, illustration, or data table from an IRRI publication, permission had to be secured via a legal material transfer document.
Considering this, the change in copyright policy is an important breakthrough towards real dissemination and actual appropriation. Now that IRRI publications are available through OA, nothing should stop a Webenabled rice researcher anywhere in the world from obtaining content for repurposing, distribution, or modification.
Free from the old restrictive policy and procedure, CPS now encourages such forms of selfservice publishing and only requests proper attribution and adoption of the same Creative Commons license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), such that other users can enjoy the same privileges.
IRRI Training Center: Building capacity through open access
Studies show that farmer cooperators, acquiring knowledge and techniques from researchers and extension workers, experience higher yield than noncooperators (Balasubramanian, et al., n.d.). This makes IRRIs capacitybuilding function, led by the TC, an indispensable researchtodelivery component.
The business model of TC combines training, trainthetrainer, and devolution of information and technical knowledge in developing national systems (IRRI, 2001). By design, therefore, its competitive advantage comes from strong collaborative relationships with NARES partners.
To increase impact and reach, in 2002, TC began to offer computeraided distance education by way of the Rice Knowledge Bank (RKB at http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org). Envisioned as a virtual university, the RKB is an OA facility that offers Webbased decision support tools, data sheets, elearning modules, and other products.
The RKB has been a resounding success, if based on the number of site hits; in June 2007, it surpassed the 3.2million mark and has been viewed by almost 250,000 unique visitors. The RKB supplements classroombased group training; with more than 13,000 learning sessions to date, facetoface training is still an essential feature in the TC portfolio.
Localizing the RKB: NARES partners take over
C.R. Rajendran, director of the Asian Development Banks (ADB) Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Division for the Mekong region, admits there are advantages and disadvantages to the use of ICT in bridging the knowledge gap in agriculture:
ICT offers powerful new ways to capture, present, and disseminate the wealth of knowledge available ... . However, most poor and smallscale farmers are unable to access such information available through ICT due to language barriers, lack of tools, and lack of knowledge about existing information. Also, they may be overwhelmed and intimidated by ICT. (ADB, 2004)
In 2004, ADB approved a US$1million grant from the Japan Fund for Information and Communications Technology (JFICT; see http://www.adb.org/Documents/News/2001/nr2001079.asp) to support an ICT project targeting poor rice farmers in the Mekong region. The project aimed to adopt materials from IRRIs RKB site and localize them to suit local conditions and the needs of extension workers and collaborators in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. By using countryspecific, relevant, and targeted content, transfer of appropriate technology can be faster and wider, creating impact at the grassroots level.
Localization could also create a sense of ownership that helps foster sustainability. Wider availability of technologybased services will help demystify ICT, encourage farmers to use its tools, and, perhaps, even compel government to fund development of infrastructure in the countryside. It can help validate both the virtual university and the soundness of the proffered methods and practices.
Country sites (see http://www.knowledgebank.irri.org/regionalSites/bangladesh/default.htm, for example) assist the Institute through devolution, by shifting to the ultimate beneficiary the NARES collaborators and their stakeholders the more complex and resourceintensive task of creating capacity, developing new content, testing technologies, transferring knowledge to rice farmers, and maintaining the local site.
Benefits can also cross organizational and country borders. The main RKB site, serving as a portal, showcases techniques and tools of different groups and localities. As such, OA promotes partnership between IRRI and its NARES collaborators, as well as between national systems.
Open access towards equitable access to IRRIs global public goods
The success of TC with the JFICT project demonstrates the advantages of OA. By allowing free and immediate access to the results of IRRIs research, the RKB has been able to enhance information delivery, knowledge sharing, and wider exchange of best practices in research, training, and extension. As a result, OA has benefited national, even regional, stakeholder groups.
On the other hand, as the experiences of LDS and CPS illustrate, there are still other obstacles to overcome before the benefits of OA can be redistributed fully. Both organizational units are undertaking projects under Goal 4 to solve the problems.
Hurdling copyright controls by creating an information repository at IRRI
Bailey (2006) suggested selfarchiving as a way to preserve and ensure open and perpetual access to scholarly material. To encourage the practice in IRRI, LDS is pushing for the creation of an institutional repository. To be able to do this, the Library has suggested the need for:
- Management commitment to fund, staff, and operate digital repositories and archives, to allow sustainable access to vital institutional information sources.
- A sustained campaign among IRRI scientists and scholars, to encourage them to populate the repository with their scholarly works and to act as reviewers and editors.
- Increased involvement of LDS in the digitization and indexing of scholarly literature, as well as in related promotional initiatives.
- Meaningful and continuing collaboration among IRRI staff to sustain the institutional repository.
In the repository, LDS seeks to capture, among others, a key group of publications: research articles published by staff in subscriptionbased journals. While commercial publishers impose strict intellectual property control over journal submissions, industry giants such as Elsevier (http://www.elsevier.com) now allow authors to selfarchive their version of papers (i.e., preprints).
The Rice Thesaurus: Developing a universal language for rice researchers
To promote its scholarly publishing agenda, IRRI has created the Rice Thesaurus, a living database of ricerelated vocabulary terms. Based on internationally accepted standard metadata element sets and terminologies, the metadata profiles for the Rice Thesaurus are derived from and will form part of the FAO/CGIAR Agricultural Metadata Element Set (AGMES).
CPS initiated and later engaged LDS in the Rice Thesaurus project, after it had converted IRRIs historic publications (more than 90,000 pages across nearly 500 titles) and photos into digital format (starting with some 5,000 images). Initially, CPS used offtheshelf software to provide staff access to the files, but later opted for open source solutions, when proprietary features did not prove flexible and scaleable enough for IRRIs needs.
To test the database and ensure its usability for OA, the digital publications and photos are being tagged with the Rice Thesaurus terms. LDS and CPS hope this will not only help improve the searchability of IRRIs research on the Internet, but also increase opportunities for use and citation by other researchers.
Democratizing ICT: The true new frontier for knowledge dissemination
Making IRRI publications available online (for example, see Rice is life: Scientific perspectives for the 21st century at http://www.irri.org/publications/wrrc/index.htm) has helped CPS address an operations issue through the reduction of its distribution expenses. However, the Rice Publications Archive was created to serve not just a transactional but a strategic purpose to provide real and unfettered access to IRRIs rice research. Therefore, CPS must review its approach and make the facility more effective and robust.
One important consideration is the profile of IRRIs customers. Most rice producers and consumers are located in developing regions where ICT infrastructure is poor to nonexistent. Table 2 shows the pertinent statistics for countries where IRRI maintains a local office. Except for Korea, where the Internet is available to 66.5 percent of the population, a majority of the IRRI country sites do not even serve one percent of the local connectivity needs. Surely, the problem is more severe in the rural areas, where many in the agricultural community reside.
Since the required technology is not available, how can IRRIs knowledge products reach the right users at the right time? As the success of the JFICTRKB project has illustrated, CPS must be able to work through partners in the middle of the value chain impact channels that have direct access to both the technology and the customers groups. These would include NARES partners, especially those in the knowledge management and development communication disciplines.
Table 2: Total population vs. Internetenabled population at IRRI country sites.
Note: Internet statistics from http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm.
Africa Internet statistics were updated 10 June 2007.
Asia Internet statistics were updated on 14 June 2007.
Percentage of population
Users in region
Growth in use
Bangladesh 137,493,990 100,000 370,000 0.3 0.1 270.0 Cambodia 15,507,538 6,000 41,000 0.3 0.0 583.3 China 1,317,431,495 22,500,000 144,000,000 10.9 35.2 540.0 India 1,129,667,528 5,000,000 40,000,000 3.5 9.8 700.0 Indonesia 224,481,720 2,000,000 20,000,000 8.9 4.9 900.0 Korea 51,300,989 19,040,000 34,120,000 66.5 8.3 79.2 Lao PDR 5,826,271 6,000 25,000 0.4 0.0 316.7 Myanmar 54,821,470 1,000 300,000 0.5 0.1 29900.0 Nepal 25,874,519 50,000 225,000 0.9 0.1 350.0 Nigeria 162,082,868 200,000 5,000,000 3.1 15.0 2400.0 Philippines 87,236,532 2,000,000 7,820,000 9.0 1.9 291.0 Tanzania 38,870,348 115,000 333,000 0.9 1.0 189.6 Thailand 67,249,456 2,300,000 8,420,000 12.5 2.1 266.1 Vietnam 85,031,436 200,000 15,760,702 18.5 3.8 7780.4 Total 3,402,876,160 53,518,000 276,414,702 8.1 24 516 World total 6,574,666,417 n/a 1,133,408,294 17.2 100 214
To achieve this, the Archive must allow CPS channels to easily acquire, transmit, repurpose, and transform the information, to suit the needs of the end users. Based on the average penetration rate in Table 2, it is likely that in many cases, the medium must adapt to the least common denominator: print publishing.
Since the early 2000s, when CPS first created the files for the Archive (in Adobe Acrobat), there have been great advancements in digital technology. Open source platforms, Web 2.0 tools, and ecommerce engines, which allow for greater flexibility, are now being explored to improve dissemination and reduce download issues.
If required, to convert the information back to traditional media without risking the inventory management and funding problems that CPS had to deal with, the impact channels can turn to desktop printing, CD/DVD, video, and other emerging ondemand technologies.
Conclusion: Creating a global portal for rice knowledge
As the CPS, LDS, and TC case studies show, OA is necessary to meet the objectives of IRRIs Goal 4. With the layer of copyright restriction removed, better access to research results serves to lubricate IRRIs value chain.
In due course, IRRI hopes to convene the rice industry players via a World Rice Community Portal, a major output of the new strategy. It is designed to provide a single interface or dashboard from which users can access information from all ICTbased initiatives in IRRI, such as the Archive and the RKB main and country sites. As more global public goods are created by the Portal community, other ricerelated sites are expected to link to the Portal.
As a first step, IRRI must develop strong links upstream and downstream by promoting OA adoption to all potential users, generators, and channels of the Portal. Any break or gap the inability, unwillingness, or lack of understanding to impart IRRIs knowledge freely and immediately may weaken the model.
In the near term, any points for convergence between CPS and LDS should be investigated to be able to develop more seamless processes. Ultimately, by codeveloping a robust strategy, CPS and LDS will be better equipped to champion the OA agenda in IRRI.
About the authors
Albert Borrero, Mila Ramos, Anna Arsenal, Katherine Lopez, and Gene Hettel are IRRI staff from Communication and Publications Services (CPS) and Library and Documentation Services (LDS).
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Copyright ©2007, First Monday.
Copyright ©2007, Albert Borrero, Mila Ramos, Anna Arsenal, Katherine Lopez, and Gene Hettel.
Scholarly publishing initiatives at the International Rice Research Institute: Linking users to public goods via open access by Albert Borrero, Mila Ramos, Anna Arsenal, Katherine Lopez, and Gene Hettel
First Monday, Volume 12 Number 10 - 1 October 2007